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Planet Waves: How Not to Go Insane



Based on even a cursory reading of the news, or listening to anyone speak for more than five minutes, the mental health problem is now obviously at the pandemic scale. Random acts of violence, the lack of the obligation to make any sense, and a frantic feeling that seems to be soaking through society are just a few clues of its existence.

That there is at least one firearm for every man, woman and child in the United States indicates the level of fear, insecurity and mania over control. The symbol of the gun is that it's the one sure way to get someone to do something, at least in the mind of the person who has it.

The political conventions have spun out nonstop gossip while the real issues—among them, what is happening to the natural environment around us, and how many people are struggling to get through the day—are largely ignored.

I've noticed that it's not fashionable to talk about difficulty. Complaining is one thing; that's always popular. To actually open up about one's personal struggle seems to violate the "it's all good" rule. Opening up also necessitates vulnerability, and courage, and these things are in short supply at the moment.

As a result, my sense from listening and observing is that many people are holding in a lot: of pain, of anger, of fear, of confusion. Many, many people struggle daily with depression, often without understanding it and having no idea what to do about it.

What also I've noticed working as a personal astrologer for people in recent years is a struggle with purpose. Many people want to do something but don't know what to do. Many feel called to action but don't know what action to take. Part of that paralysis involves looking into the chaos of the planet and not seeing anywhere they can possibly make a difference, have an influence or make a living.

Yet I think that most of it involves the inner relationship, which is a dangerous thing these days. I say that because many people fear they are holding in so much that to open up even a little would be to let it all out. Therefore, the answer is to hold on and keep control.

What I'm describing is not affecting all people to the same degree. Obviously there are people who are doing well: who have a dry roof, food and a gig, and who feel pretty good most days. My purpose here is to speak to those who want to be doing better, by which I mean living a little more in balance, more connected, and living closer to a tangible healing process.

In recent editions, I've documented the influence of the internet on the chaotic state of society and the disoriented condition most people find themselves in at the moment. To sum up, the Net is inducing a disembodied state of existence. Part of what is driving the confusion and indeed the violence is a lack of connection to the body and its purpose.

I've quoted Eric McLuhan, the son of Marshall McLuhan, a few times lately, and I'll do it again today, because one of the problems we're having is remembering what happened yesterday.

"The body is everywhere assaulted by all of our new media, a state which has resulted in deep disorientation of intellect and destabilization of culture throughout the world. In the age of disembodied communication, the meaning and significance and experience of the body is utterly transformed and distorted."

It may not be easy to see the connections here, though it makes more sense if you know even a little about how the impact of something like the typewriter or the telephone transformed both society and how people think of themselves.

This issue goes back long before the Internet, but it's now exploded to the degree where it's uncontainable. There is no turning back. There is only the potential to find some new form of meaning, some new relationship with the body, in the midst of the chaos that we have created. This is possible, though it's going to require many different learning curves, including discovering remembering how to communicate with one another about things that matter.

Most New Age religion emphasizes being out of body rather than in your body and in your circumstances. It's designed to be easy. Yoga fits this pattern in that as currently practiced most of the time, it seems to be devoid of its philosophical and spiritual content; it reaches all the way into the other side of the polarity, in its own way denying the need to integrate living and how we respond to it with our minds.

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